Is Employee Wellness Really Just Extended Talent Management?

From the HR blog on TLNT: workplace wellness
From the HR blog on TLNT: workplace wellness. Photo illustration by Dreamstime.

Employee Wellness programs are here to stay. As health insurance becomes more expensive and individual health continues to suffer, organizations have no choice but to get serious about helping their employees to become more well.

Most wellness programs are focused on physical health: losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking, etc. All important areas to focus on to increase overall physical health, but wellness can reach far beyond this.

The National Wellness Institute defines wellness this way:

Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”

The 6 dimensions of wellness

Notice that the definition doesn’t box wellness into physical health. This definition is far more broad and encompassing of the overall person. The National Wellness Institute goes on to outline that there are six (6) dimensions of wellness:

  • Social
  • Occupational
  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Emotional

These dimensions are described as interdependent, meaning that if one area is suffering, they all suffer. Progressively designed corporate wellness programs take into account all of these dimensions to help their employees to attain overall well being.

Wellness and Talent Management

Talent Management has become the primary strategic focus for most human resources groups around the globe. The task of human resources and talent management professionals is to turn the potential of individual people into the collective results the organization needs to succeed. Consider this definition of Talent Management from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD):

A holistic approach to optimizing human capital, which enables an organization to drive short- and long-term results by building culture, engagement, capability, and capacity through integrated talent acquisition, development, and deployment processes that are aligned to business goals.

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This definition doesn’t include employee wellness, but maybe it should. Look at the first part of this definition. If I state it more simply, Talent Management is whatever we can do (holistic approach) to get the most out of (optimize) our individual employees (human capital) to ensure we meet our organizational goals (short and long-term results). With this definition in mind, recall the definition of wellness outlined above that states it is about helping people realize a “more successful existence.”

When you consider these two definitions, it becomes pretty clear that these two disciplines are more closely related than what we may have thought. Both are clearly aimed at helping the individual become more successful. The difference appears to be that Talent Management has a much more narrow focus, turning talents into business results. Talent Management, from the employee’s perspective, could be considered “occupational wellness,” helping the employee be more successful within their job.

Breaking it down

When we step back for a moment and consider the big picture of talent management at the organizational level, here’s how you might break this down.

  • If the results of the organization are an outcome of the collective performance of the individual employees of the organization;
  • If each individual will perform optimally when they are most well physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually then;
  • Wellness is about preparing employees to unlock their full potential; and,
  • Talent management is about taking this potential and developing it to produce optimal results for the organization.

It’s hard to escape the apparent linkage between the two. Maybe you aren’t quite ready to integrate wellness into your talent management team or vice versa, but it may be time to get the two groups together to talk about how their work can complement each other.

Jason Lauritsen a keynote speaker, author and advisor.  He is an employee engagement and workplace culture expert who will challenge you to think differently. 

A former corporate human resources executive, Jason has dedicated his career to helping leaders build organizations that are good for both people and profits. 

Most recently, he led the research team for Quantum Workplace’s Best Places to Work program where he has studied the employee experience at thousands of companies to understand what the best workplaces in the world do differently than the rest. 

Jason is the co-author of the book, Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships. Connect with Jason at